The High-Resolution 17-Inch MacBook Pro

Back in November 2005, I reviewed my then-new 15-inch PowerBook G4. (Which is still my main Mac today. Screw that little endian stuff.) One of the notable changes in those PowerBooks was that Apple increased the resolution of their displays; the 15-inch models went from 1280 × 854 to 1440 × 960; the then-new 17-inch PowerBooks went from 1440 × 900 to 1680 × 1050.

Those PowerBook displays, and their MacBook Pro 15- and 17-inch counterparts,1 were the highest resolution displays Apple had ever sold.

The new 17-inch MacBook Pros introduced this week, however, offer a significantly higher resolution display. At 1920 × 1200, they offer the same number of pixels as a 23-inch Cinema Display. Here’s a table comparing recent Apple displays and their pixels-per-inch resolutions:

Display Width Height PPI
12-inch PowerBook/iBook 1024 768 107
14-inch iBook 1024 768 91
MacBook (13.3-inch) 1280 800 113
15-inch MacBook Pro 1440 900 110
17-inch MacBook Pro (Default) 1680 1050 117
17-inch MacBook Pro (High Resolution) 1920 1200 133
20-inch Cinema Display 1680 1050 99
23-inch Cinema Display 1920 1200 98
30-inch Cinema Display 2560 1600 102
iPhone (3.5-inch) 480 320 160

Notably absent from this week’s new MacBook Pros is the configuration I’d personally be most interested in: a higher resolution 1680 × 1050 15-inch MacBook (matching the pixel count on the 20-inch Cinema Displays).

Apple’s previous notebook displays already offered significantly higher pixels-per-inch density than the Cinema Displays. The new high-resolution 17-inch MacBook Pro blows them away. At 133 PPI, it’s hard not to see it as a few months ahead of its time, optimized for the resolution independence coming (I hope) in Mac OS X 10.5.

  1. The last model 15-inch PowerBook G4 had a 1440 × 960 display; the 15-inch MacBook Pros have a 1440 × 900 display. The effective resolution in terms of pixels per inch is very similar, though. ↩︎